NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE
DALLAS –– An internal investigation accuses a Dallas Independent School District principal of putting relatives and friends on the payroll and misspending federal funds on items including a cash grab machine for a student award ceremony.
The comprehensive investigation completed by the Dallas ISD’s Office of Professional Responsibility and obtained exclusively by News 8 alleges Roosevelt High School Principal Dr. Leicha Shaver engaged in nepotism and mismanaged thousands of dollars in Texas Title 1 Priority Schools grant funds. That money is awarded to schools that show the greatest need to improve academic performance.
The 44-page report concludes, among other things, that Shaver spent $200,000 of grant funds on a student award ceremony in which children received gift cards, electronics and even got the chance to pocket as much money as they could in a ‘cash grab’ machine.
They’re the size of a shower stall and blow cash around when fans are activated, alowing participants to grab as many bills as they can in a short amount of time.
Some children walked out with $800 to $900, the report said.
Spending Title 1 grant funds on award ceremonies, entertainment or gifts is considered an “unallowable cost” according to the Texas Education Agency, DISD's report added.
The district's investigation also accuses Shaver of nepotism and even paying relatives stipends with federal grant funds.
A whistle blower email in October 2012 sparked the district’s investigation. It said Shaver allowed a specific teacher to act as an administrator and that person became “a source of intimidation and discouragement for many teachers because of the way Shaver allows him to speak to teachers.”
It went on to say, “He has been directed by Dr. Shaver to hang around in the main office just in case Mr. Miles pops into the school unexpectedly.” Mike Miles is the superintendent of DISD.
The report also said a witness told investigators “…Dr. Shaver has only hired people who were either highly favored by her or friends of her family members.”
Despite accusations of violating district rules on nepotism and state rules on the spending of grant funds, neither Shaver nor any other employees in the report were placed on administrative leave.
One DISD trustee contacted by News 8, who didn’t want to be identified, said it’s a good question why Shaver is not on administrative leave.
“The district is in the process of reviewing the amount of funds that will need to be reimbursed to the TTIPS grant,” said Jon Dahlander, Dallas ISD spokesman. “It is also examining steps that could be taken to provide more oversight to special grants such as the TTIPS grant. It should be noted that the district's OPR thoroughly investigated the matter, allowing the district to self-report the issues.”
News 8 called Dr. Shaver at Roosevelt High School on Friday but she would not answer questions. A message left with her attorney was not immediately returned. Dallas ISD would not elaborate on why Shaver remains on campus with the allegations she faces, saying it is a personnel matter.
Concern appears to be growing. Investigators from the Texas Education Agency are now reviewing the allegations as well.